Sunday, 11 December 2011

Urban Wail II: Water Spaces


Revelers at denuded beach
This piece is a sequel to the one I penned last week. I just finished the Per Ankh edition of Ayi Kwei Armah’s Fragments which was originally published in 1969. For me Ayi Kwei Armah is one of contemporary Ghana’s sharpest minds; one of those rare breed of geniuses who Nature’s God deigns once in a long while to throw at us earthlings. And it is his life-long commitment to the cause of Ghana and Africa in his work unlike some other thinkers in this our Republic that I most admire. Armah NEVER traded his genius for drossy silver offered by salivating politicos in order to promote their too often nefarious game of mass exploitation. Currently ensconced in Popenguine, Senegal in a serene location by the sea Armah has almost abandoned Ghana (at least spatially) like the Russian great mind Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did Russia; though in the former case there is a voluntary twist. I recommend Solzhenitysn’s(1995; Farrar, Straus and Giroux) moving expository prose: The Russian Question at the End of the Twentieth Century.

Man and Woman cannot live by water alone!!
To return to Fragments  Armah describes in fine detail the Tema Beach Road(TBR) which represents one of the two main approaches(the other is the Kwame Nkrumah Motorway) to Ghana’s industrial heartland, Tema from downtown Accra. Why only two till this day I cannot fathom. It shows how intelligent our leaders have been thus far. Eerily the TBR has scarcely changed since Armah was inspired by it. The sea still surges forward violently yet beautifully as it wears away by the minute its land barrier (how long will the TBR last?).Armah reported then that nobody was paying mind to a looming catastrophe; same same story. In one important departure though this beach now hosts throngs of our compatriots on especially national holidays and literally bursts at the seams on such occasions. In all truth it was not meant for such a purpose. But there is a plaintive subtext which hums to my mind whenever I drive past and see all those shiny 4 wheelers, motorbikes and families and lovers. Accra is facing a severe dearth of outlets for recreation. Our city has become moribund. Our city has become a necropolis dedicated fittingly to desiccating, soul sapping, imagination clogging, routines of bauble hawking and the in-out tray. We do not have places to play. How can we THINK? One searches in vain for a place to just sit with greenery and birds and insects to just watch the world go by in slow-mo. But you cannot search in vain for those ugly concrete structures with their fake shimmer popping out here and there in this our city. CONCRETE JUNGLE.

Toying with Poseidon's Fury?????
This brings me to another beach. In Elmina. Where Azambuja berthed and changed our history in the 15th century. After Henry the Navigator had mastered the art of navigation from our hands and changed the world. MASTERY(NOT DOMINATION) OF THE SEA.  If only we UNDERSTOOD. Now we are mining gold on the beaches. Could it be all about a collective fevered mind so bent on overnight riches (like all those raffles and churches promise) that in a hallucinatory state sees gold everywhere? And the authorities seemed to have looked on while the beach excavation flowered. Now the denuding of our lands inland has been brought to the shore front. Aquatic galamsey. Soon enough we will be digging gold on the Motorway inspired by the Elmina Gold Rush.  It is all very confusing and more so because those who lead are the most confused it seems!!!!!       

4 comments:

  1. We hope a giant like Ayi Kwei Armah is not keeping himself away too much from the maddening crowd.
    The surging sea poses a big problem to the TBR. Could decisions arrived at COP 17 in Durban, South Africa stop the rising level of the sea?We need to take local action to protect our environment.
    We have so much that we really appreciate our resources let alone preserve or add value to them.
    I guess Lloyd lives at Sakumono or close by. Have you taken a walk to Mighty Beach? It is one of greatest messy cemetries of plastic waste.So-called residential area as Sakumono has no recreational park! concrete, concrete, concrete, filth, filth, noise, noise, noise, kiosks, containers, stray animals,covered gutters losing their slabs each day, gutters becoming refuse dumps.Sakumono is becoming a slum! Is that development and civilisation? The MPs, technocrats are all living that slum.

    Back to our once beautiful but now dirty beaches. Being liberal sometimes, I hate the idea of banning. Should we ban the plastic if we cannot handle it. Quite draconian but... Rwanda has such a ban and it keeps the place clean and healthy.
    Why can't we encourage the use of more environmentally friendly bags made from grey baft and kenaf?
    What about planting coconut along the beach road. Imagine the green against the blue Atlantic!
    In Dakar,the capital city of country where Ayi Kwei Amar lives, the beach road is being lined with date palms. Tall date palms are uprooted, transported and being replanted as part of greening project of the city. Can't we do the same with coconuts?
    We have more clement weather to support trees and parks. Ask me what became of our Greening Ghana project when Ghana turned 50?

    What became of the coconut trees i understand were planted by 31st December movement along La Beach?
    What of re-locating the military range and turning the place into a coconut plantation for recreation and protecting the coastline?

    Maybe when the the sea starts washing away the TBR we shall start thinking of alternatives. We will know how to cross the bridge when we get there.Maybe it would be too late and costly.

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  2. "So-called residential area as Sakumono has no recreational park! concrete, concrete, concrete, filth, filth, noise, noise, noise, kiosks, containers, stray animals,covered gutters losing their slabs each day, gutters becoming refuse dumps.Sakumono is becoming a slum! Is that development and civilisation? The MPs, technocrats are all living that slum." BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

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  3. Lloyd,
    As an ugly American, I'll pile on. The two features of public life that I miss most are parks and libraries. So far as I am aware, the only public spaces that have any greenery in Accra are the Sutherland Children's Park, the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, and the University of Ghana campus. All of the local football pitches are dusty and denuded. Last year, the /AMA reported they were starting work on a park in Timber Market (aka Sodom & Gommorrah), it will be interesting to see if it comes to pass.
    Charlie

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  4. In fact Charlie there is nothing ugly about your comment. A WISE PEOPLE WILL LEARN FROM EVERYWHERE!!!!!

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